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Nirav Modi Denied Bail For the Second Time, But London Court Says India's Witnesses Inconsistent

The police custody of the fugitive billionaire, who was arrested on March 20, has been extended till April 26, when the next bail hearing will take place.


Updated:March 29, 2019, 11:08 PM IST

London: Nirav Modi, the main accused in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank scam, has been denied bail for the second time after the Crown Prosecution Service strongly opposed it in the Westminster Magistrates Court on Friday.

The police custody of the fugitive billionaire, who was arrested on March 20, has been extended till April 26, when the next bail hearing will take place.

Acknowledging that there were inconsistencies in accounts of government witnesses, the court, however, said that Modi's resources, the allegations of destruction of evidence, the scale of the alleged fraud, and his interest in moving to the South Pacific raise concerns that he may not fulfil the bail conditions.

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, who is the same judge who had ordered the extradition of Vijay Mallya in December last year, gave the Indian government time till May 30 to get its papers in order and asked for clarity in exhibits that were presented in court.

UK prosecutor Toby Cadman, appearing for the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of Indian authorities, had told the court that Nirav Modi threatened to kill a witness and offered a bribe to another. It was also alleged that evidence related to the case was destroyed on his orders.

“Given the scale of fraud and significant assets, a bail is opposed. He could influence witnesses if released on bail,” the prosecutor told the London court.

The prosecutor further said that Modi was a man of considerable means and had an “overwhelming desire to flee.” He has diamonds, gold and pearls of substantial value, he said. Arguing that he had not co-operated with the police in any way, Cadman said no conditions should satisfy the court to grant bail.

Nirav Modi’s defense team rubbished the allegations against him and claimed the charge that he was planning to flee was nonsense.

“He has not applied to stay anywhere else, UK is only place for him. He has expired permits for Singapore and Hong Kong. His son has left the UK to study in the US. He is not preparing to flee,” Modi’s lawyer Clare Montgomery said.

He proposed that instead of police custody, the diamantaire could be electronically monitored day and night.

Montgomery also denied that Nirav Modi gave death threats to anyone in Cairo, as alleged by the prosecution. “The named people had all left Cairo by August 2018. There are serious grounds for doubting the credibility of allegations,” he said.

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